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her support? In the very first winter after the accession to his mother's fortune, Mrs. Hawxby in a country-house caused her Beatrice to learn billiards from Mr. Pendennis, and would be driven by nobody but him in the pony carriage, because he was literary and her Beatrice was literary too, and declared that the young man, under the instigation of his horrid old uncle, had behaved most infamously in trifling with Beatrice's feelings. The truth is the old gentleman, who knew Mrs. Hawxby's character, and how desperately that lady would practise upon unwary young men, had come to the country-house in question and carried Arthur out of the danger of her immediate claws, though not out of the reach of her tongue. The elder Pendennis would have had his nephew pass a part of the Christmas at Clavering, whither the family had returned; but Arthur had not the heart for that. Clavering was too near poor old Fairoaks; and that was too full of sad recollections for the young man.
We have lost sight of the Claverings, too, until their re-appearance upon the Epsom race-ground, and must give a brief account of them in the interval. During the past year, the world has not treated any member of the Clavering family very kindly. Lady Clavering, one of the best-natured women that ever enjoyed a good dinner, or made a slip in grammar, has had her appetite and good-nature sadly tried by constant family grievances, and disputes such as make the efforts of the best French cook unpalatable, and the most delicately-stuffed sofa-cushion hard to lie on. "I'd rather have a turnip, Strong, for dessert, than that pine-apple, and all them Muscatel grapes, from Clavering," says poor Lady Clayering, looking at her dinner-table, and confiding her griefs to her faithful friend, "if I could but have a little quiet to eat it
with. Oh, how much happier I was when I was a widow, and before all this money fell in to me!"
The Clavering family had indeed made a false start in life, and had got neither comfort, nor position, nor thanks for the hospitalities which they administered, nor a return of kindness from the people whom they entertained. The success of their first London season was doubtful; and their failure afterwards notorious. "Human patience was not great enough to put up with Sir Francis Clavering," people said. "He was too hopelessly low, dull, and disreputable. You could not say what, but there was a taint about the house and its entourages. Who was the Begum, with her money, and without her h's, and where did she come from? What an extraordinary little piece of conceit the daughter was, with her Gallicised graces and daring affectations, not fit for well-bred English girls to associate with! What strange people were those they assembled round about them! Sir Francis Clavering was a gambler, living notoriously in the society of black-legs and profligates. Hely Clinker, who was in his regiment, said that he not only cheated at cards, but showed the white feather. What could Lady Rockminster have meant by taking her up?" After the first season, indeed, Lady Rockminster, who had taken up Lady Clavering, put her down; the great ladies would not take their daughters to her parties: the young men who attended them behaved with the most odious freedom and scornful familiarity; and poor Lady Clavering herself avowed that she was obliged to take what she called "the canal" into her parlour, because the tiptops wouldn't
She had not the slightest ill-will towards "the canal," the poor dear lady, or any pride about herself, or idea
that she was better than her neighbour; but she had taken implicity the orders which on her entry into the world her social godmothers had given her: she had been willing to know whom they knew, and ask whom they asked. The "canal," in fact, was much pleasanter than what is called "society;" but, as we said before, that to leave a mistress is easy, while, on the contrary, to be left by her is cruel; so you may give up society without any great pang, or anything but a sensation of relief at the parting; but severe are the mortifications and pains you have if society gives up you.
One young man of fashion we have mentioned, who at least it might have been expected would have been found faithful amongst the faithless, and Harry Foker, Esq. was indeed that young man. But he had not managed matters with prudence; and the unhappy passion at first confided to Pen, became notorious and ridiculous to the town, was carried to the ears of his weak and fond mother, and finally brought under the cognisance of the bald-headed and inflexible Foker senior.
When Mr. Foker learned this disagreeable news, there took place between him and his son a violent and painful scene which ended in the poor little gentleman's banishment from England for a year, with a positive order to return at the expiration of that time and complete his marriage with his cousin; or to retire into private life and three hundred a year altogether, and never see parent or brewery more. Mr. Henry Foker went away then, carrying with him that grief and care which passed free at the strictest Custom-houses, and which proverbially accompanies the exile, and with this crape over his eyes, even the Parisian Boulevard looked melancholy to him, and the sky of Italy black.
To Sir Francis Clavering that year was a most unfortunate one. The events described in the last chapter came to complete the ruin of the year. It was that year of grace in which, as our sporting readers may remember, Lord Harrowhill's horse (he was a classical young nobleman, and named his stud out of the Iliad)—when Podasokus won the "Derby," to the dismay of the knowing ones, who pronounced the winning horse's name in various extraordinary ways, and who backed Borax, who was nowhere in the race. Sir Francis Clavering, who was intimate with some of the most rascally characters of the turf, and, of course, had valuable "information," had laid heavy odds against the winning horse, and backed the favourite freely, and the result of his dealings was, as his son correctly stated to poor Lady Clavering, a loss of seven thousand pounds.
Indeed, it was a cruel blow upon the lady, who had discharged her husband's debts many times over: who had received as many times his oaths and promises of amendment; who had paid his money-lenders and horsedealers; who had furnished his town and country houses, and who was called upon now instantly to meet this enormous sum, the penalty of her cowardly husband's extravagance.
It has been described in former pages how the elder Pendennis had become the adviser of the Clavering family, and, in his quality of intimate friend of the house, had gone over every room of it, and even seen that ugly closet which we all of us have, and in which, according to the proverb, the family skeleton is locked up. About the Baronet's pecuniary matters, if the Major did not know, it was because Clavering himself did not know them, and
hid them from himself and others in such a hopeless entanglement of lies, that it was impossible for adviser or attorney or principal to get an accurate knowledge of his affairs. But, concerning Lady Clavering, the Major was much better informed; and when the unlucky mishap of the "Derby" arose, he took upon himself to become completely and thoroughly acquainted with all her means, whatsoever they were; and was now accurately informed of the vast and repeated sacrifices which the widow Amory had made in behalf of her present husband.
He did not conceal,-and he had won no small favour from Miss Blanche by avowing it,-his opinion, that Lady Clavering's daughter had been hardly treated at the expense of her son, by her second marriage: and in his conversations with Lady Clavering had fairly hinted that he thought Miss Blanche ought to have a better provision. We have said that he had already given the widow to understand that he knew all the particulars of her early and unfortunate history, having been in India at the time when-when the painful circumstances occurred which had ended in her parting from her first husband. He could tell her where to find the Calcutta newspaper which contained the account of Amory's trial, and he showed, and the Begum was not a little grateful to him for his forbearance, how, being aware all along of this mishap which had befallen her, he had kept all knowledge of it to himself, and been constantly the friend of her family.
"Interested motives, my dear Lady Clavering," he said, “of course I may have had. We all have interested motives, and mine, I don't conceal from you, was to make a marriage between my nephew and your daughter." To which Lady Clavering, perhaps with some surprise